Tag Archives: ecology

Transgender Day of Visibility: Honoring Queer Nature

So Sinopoulos-Lloyd, a young person with bulky black hair, wearing khakis and something strapped over their right shoulder

Debbie says:

It’s International Transgender Day of Visibility, which has been celebrated for 14 years.

The day was founded by transgender activist[3] Rachel Crandall of Michigan in 2009[4] as a reaction to the lack of LGBTQ+ recognition of transgender people, citing the frustration that the only well-known transgender-centered day was the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which mourned the murders of transgender people, but did not acknowledge and celebrate living members of the transgender community.

In 2023, a despicable fraction of our country is working to make transgender people entirely too visible, in terrifying and destructive ways. This makes it even more important to, as Wikipedia says above, “acknowledge and celebrate” the living trans people doing great work.

I’m completely aware that there are hundreds of extraordinary trans organizations doing terrific work for trans safety and trans rights, and I know other people are identifying and uplifting all of them. Nonetheless, what I want to do here is celebrate an organization which combines trans (and LGBT) rights and freedoms with the ecological and nature-based work that directly affects all of us.

The organization known as Queer Nature

dream[s] into what queer ‘ancestral futurism’ and other alternatives to modernity could look like through mentorship in place-based skills with awareness of post-industrial/globalized/ecocidal contexts. Place-based skills include naturalist studies/interpretation, handcrafts, “survival skills,” and recognition of colonial and Indigenous histories of land and are framed in a container that emphasizes listening and relationship building with ecological systems and their inhabitants.

Founded by Pinar Sinopoulos-Lloyd and So Sinopoulos-Lloyd (both of whom use they/them pronouns), Queer Nature is based in Washington State, though it started in the Intermountain West. So’s photograph is at the top of this post. Its site has information on the indigenous and natural history of both locations. Offerings are limited in 2023 due to death of a parent and attendant family responsibilities; they include skillshares, stealthcraft (“blending in to your surroundings, going unnoticed, and collecting strategic information about your environment”), anti-oppression work for people engaged in nature connection and/or social justice, and much more.

Just reading the website is like a window into how differently we can live. Projects like this deserve visibility both in the context of transgender visibility and in the context of alternate ways to occupy the planet. Thanks to the Sinopoulos-Lloyds and their team for continuing this great work, and wishes for their family to recover well from the current loss.


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Passover: Freeing the Earth from Bondage

Debbie says:

A seder plate

Laurie and I are both Jewish. Although neither of us is very observant, we both love Passover — the antislavery holiday, the liberation holiday, with marvelous food and often great joy. I know I missed it this year.

I can’t say I ever thought about Passover (which I also call Pesach) as a holiday with an ecological message. I was fascinated by Rabbi Ellen Bernstein’s new Haggadah (the book of the Passover ritual) on this connection. Rabbi Bernstein writes about her work in Yes! Magazine. The whole Haggadah, The Promise of the Land, can be purchased here.

On Passover we celebrate the Jewish people’s journey from slavery to freedom and the coming of spring. We tell the story year after year. Yet, for every story about peoplehood, there is a backstory about land and the natural world. Our biblical holidays commemorate the harvest and the land, the very soil out of which Judaism grew. The Haggadah, the Jewish people’s origin story, is necessarily embedded in an earthy reality. Today, we are deeply aware that our well-being and our freedom depend on the Earth’s well-being. If the Earth and its systems are compromised, our freedom is compromised; life is compromised. This Haggadah seeks to enlarge our focus. It seeks to reveal the Seder’s ecological dimensions and awaken its quiescent environmental meaning ….

The promise of the land” refers to the primary blessing that God gives all the ancestors in the Bible: eretz, or land. That the Hebrew word eretz means not just “land” but also “earth” conveys a profound ecological sense. The land or earth is the home of the swimming creatures, the flying creatures, the walking, climbing, crawling, hopping, and sprinting creatures, and us. The land, the Earth, is our habitat, and we are its inhabitants. Land or earth is the most precious blessing a people can receive—it is the source of sustenance; it is the promise of life, the promise of freedom.

Passover is a week-long holiday. It began last Monday, and is still going on today. As an unobservant Jew, I eat bread during the holiday (though I also eat the traditional unleavened bread known as matzo). I make my signature dish of chopped apples, walnuts and honey which I have been making since I was too small to work at a table. And I take time to think about slavery and freedom, about peoples liberating ourselves from servitude. Opening this up to include liberating the earth from bondage feels very strongly in keeping with the spirit of the holiday and the needs of our times.

The telling of our story begins with wide-open arms. The Seder bids us to invite those who are hungry to partake of our meal. It also bids us to invite those who are hungry in spirit—lonely, lost, heartsick. We bring everybody into the circle, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, age, and religion. The freedom we aspire to depends on our sharing.